Our Story

What we are about

vidacycle is an initiative bringing together people with shared ideas about sustainable living and quality of life. We are based in the Loncomilla Valley, Chile, an area of spectacular beauty and tranquility – the home of vineyards, blueberry farms, dairys, apiaries, pine forests, olive groves and everything in between.

Through vidacycle projects we are looking to grow a community that is committed to a few things:

-making high quality organic products

-nurturing local enterprise, allowing sustainable development that isn’t too pricey

-recognising that high quality of life is available living lightly on the land

-providing new opportunities for learning through experience for everyone involved

The cycle of life is present everywhere, on all different scales, and we are really excited by seeing the world from this perspective. This website is a place to share ideas and observations in daily life that are inspired by the life cycles around us.

Our story so far

Fundo Meza, the hub of vidacycle activity, is a small organic farm in the Botacura Valley, tucked away in the coastal hills near to San Javier. In the mid-2000s the former owners of Fundo Meza moved away, their neighbours Daniella Gillmore and Andres Sanchez told us about this opportunity to be part of the farming community there, we had travelled to Chile before and loved it, so it seemed perfect. Tom spent some time camping out in the fields really getting a feel for the land and the stars. Not long after we all got stuck in and the hard work began. The earth was previously home to knotty Pais vines but has been converted over the last 10 years to become an organic olive farm – there are 8000 trees dotted across the valley, with the first baby trees planted in 2008. Tree growth is slow and steady so each year we produce a little more delicious extra virgin olive oil.

Of course olive trees are only part of the story, every day we are reminded of the web of life and organisms that are vital for a flourishing farm. We aim to work with all parts of the ecosystem and increase the diversity of life on the land. We have learnt a lot along the way: initially we drew influence from more conventional organic farming but each year we expand our thinking to Permaculture practices, Natural Agriculture and much more; we are learning to listen to and observe the messages the plants and soil give us. We also make natural wine and agraz from the simple vines that remain on the land, work with the bees to produce a small amount of honey and care for extensive vegetable gardens, plus we are always keen to experiment with new plants/animals that work well with the land.

We have a deep awareness and respect for the gifts nature gives us. We don’t have access to the irrigation canals so the springs are our only source of water (plus we have now added two shallow wells to put less pressure on a single water source). We have embraced the lack of water in the landscape, so we give the olives very little water when they are young so that eventually they will be dry farmed (no watering) thanks to their strong roots. We do however need some water, to grow vegetables and to drink/wash, not to mention in case of fire. After the 2010 earthquake one of the springs that provides us with water dried up. It was very scary, suddenly all the channels of pipe carrying water to us became pointless as there was no water at their source. We had no idea where the water had gone or if it would ever come back. Luckily a spring further down the hill started flowing more fiercely so we redirected to that water source, but the whole event reminded us that we need to be grateful every day for the water the hills bring us.

One thing we are proud of is that all our water is pumped using a combination of solar pumps, windmills and always pumped to gravity. That means we have running water regardless of electricity which is quite unusual.

There is a whole range of other exciting stuff going on here: a windmill pumps water up from the well; we have solar hot water – there is lots of sun here; all houses are very simple passive solar designs (we let the sun and shade do most of the heating/cooling); there is a huge organic vegetable and fruit garden that feeds us with delicious food all year round…and of course the potential for many more goings on – all reflecting the vidacycle initiative.

Fundo Meza team:

Tom started his working life as a furniture maker/carpenter, has built many passive solar houses, and spent many years running a textile design software company. In the mid 2000s he finally returned to his true passion, sustainable food and farming and runs Fundo Meza, an olive farm in Chile. Farming on a small scale has been full of ups and downs but ultimately the commitment to nurturing a healthy relationship for people and the land keeps the project full of life.

Abby studied physics and then art/design. She spent a few months on the farm in her early twenties and ever since has had a deep kinship with the land. Abby spends her time developing tools and technologies with smaller scale farmers to ensure they can continue to produce sustainably, check out tech.vidacycle.com for more info. She also makes a monthly farming podcast – Farmerama – with two friends, which covers interesting farming projects in the UK and is helping to build the social innovation field through Tech for Good Global.

Joy has made and delivered locally-sourced, organic wholesome salad boxes for the last two Spring/Summer seasons, bringing people on the streets of Edinburgh and London healthy lunches. She is also a fully qualified Shiatsu practitioner and experienced grower having done the New Farmers Programme whilst in Scotland, now working on a few rooftop gardens in London.

Luis grew up in Santiago, Chile. He studied literature and linguistics and then a masters in cognitive studies. Afterwards he spent a couple of years studying psychology of language in the UK. Currently he lives in Oslo, Norway, and he loves the Scandinavian culture. Luis is also interested in nature. Nowadays he is learning Norwegian and he teaches Spanish as a second language. Luis translates our website into Spanish.